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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Senator Kennedy's 7/30/06 Op-Ed regarding the Roberts and Alito Nominations
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 07/30/06
Op-Ed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy comments on Alito and Roberts's first term in the Supreme Court.

Sen. Kohl Floor Statement in Opposition to Alito Nomination
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 01/31/06
"He was in the extreme minority of judges around the country when he found that Congress has no ability to regulate machine guns. His efforts to strike down portions of the Family and Medical Leave Act were rejected by then-Chief Justice Rehnquist. He raised the bar to unreachable heights repeatedly in employment discrimination cases, to the point where the majority of his court concluded that he was attempting to ‘‘eviscerate’’ the laws entirely."

Sen. Chafee Floor Statement in Opposition to Alito Nomination
(Republican - Rhode Island) 01/31/06
"the commerce clause the most powerful provision in the Constitution providing Congress the authority to enact legislation in a host of areas—including environmental protection....using the ‘‘aggregate effects test’’ or ‘‘substantial effects test’’ Congress has passed broad ranging environmental legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, all of which were signed into law by Republican President Nixon. While I agree there should be constitutional limits on legislative power, Judge Alito seems to have agreed with Justice Thomas ...If ‘‘the aggregate or substantial effects tests’’ are overruled as Justice Thomas has advocated, federal environmental laws could be ruled unconstitutional. Indeed on February 21, the Court is scheduled to hear arguments on two cases, Carabell v. United States and United States v. Rapanos. In both cases the lower court upheld protection of wetlands, which are currently protected under the Clean Water Act. Environmentalists argue that these wetlands are critical to the health of our nation’s water supply and wildlife habitat. Industry groups argue that the Army Corps of Engineers has no authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate ‘‘isolated wetlands’’ that have no connection with ‘‘navigable waters.’’ This would be a major setback to the Clean Water Act. The critical issue is whether under the commerce clause, Congress has the authority to regulate non-navigable bodies of water within a single State. Based on the writing of Judge Alito, he would appear to side with the faction what would greatly limit the ability of Congress to protect such ‘‘intrastate’’ issues."

Senator Akaka Floor Statement in Opposition to Alito Nomination
(Democrat - Hawaii) 01/31/06
Alito's "approach also undermines Congress’s authority to protect the public. Judge Alito has ruled that Congress did not have the authority to pass the Family Medical Leave Act or to enact a Federal ban on the possession or transfer of machine guns. In both cases, the Supreme Court disagreed with Judge Alito’s conclusions and upheld these protections, demonstrating that Judge Alito’s opinions are not in the mainstream....he will be in the position to affect a number of critical issues in the coming years. Important questions on privacy, the environment, Presidential power, and women’s reproductive rights will all come before the Court to be resolved."

Senator Menendez's Floor Statement in Opposition to Alito Nomination
(Democrat - New Jersey) 01/31/06
"Judge Alito has found against congressional authority when he argued in dissent in United States v. Rybar against a ban on machine guns that five other appellate courts and the Third Circuit itself upheld. Judge Alito also authored the majority opinion in Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development, invalidating parts of the Family and Medical Leave Act for exceeding the bounds of congressional authority—a position the Supreme Court subsequently rejected."

Sen. Boxer Floor Statement in Opposition to Alito Nomination
(Democrat - California) 01/30/06
"the Supreme Court belongs to the people of America. It is their court. It is not George Bush’s court. It is not any Senator’s court. It is the people’s court, and the highest court. It is their freedoms that are at stake, their protection from a power-hungry Executive, their right to clean air, to clean water, and safe communities, ...Would Justice Alito vote to let citizens stop companies from polluting their communities? The record says no. In a case involving toxic discharges into a major river, Judge Alito voted to stop citizens from taking the polluting company to court, as they were authorized to do under the Clean Water Act. Fortunately, in another case several years later, the Supreme Court overturned Alito’s narrow reading of the law.

Senator Chafee's 1/30/06 Statement on the Alito Nomination
(Republican - Rhode Island) 01/30/06

Senator Kerry's 1/27/06 Statement on the Alito Nomination
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 01/27/06

Sen. Harkin Floor Statement in Opposition to Alito Nomination
(Democrat - Iowa) 01/26/06
"In the two instances where Judge Alito has been required to interpret recent Supreme Court cases limiting the power of Congress to pass national legislation under the 14th amendment or under the commerce clause, he has gone further than the Court itself.